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It is Better To…

September 16, 2009

Our Wednesday night class started a study of Proverbs last week. We spent most of the class time thinking through some principles for reading Proverbs and going over the different techniques used in constructing Proverbs. I really enjoy Proverbs for a few reasons –

1.   Everyone loves to look up the Proverbs that sound pretty humorous, like 21:9 – “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” True, but humorous.

2.   When studying some subjects, it is difficult to make the bridge from text to application – Biblical proverbs are exactly the opposite. They make for some great discussion.

3.   You get to see how they connect with the rest of scripture. I have found Tremper Longman’s book How to Read Proverbs very helpful, and these are some of the principles he includes for reading proverbs. I think they will be good for me to review each week as I prepare –  

 1.   Keep in mind the structure of the whole book of Proverbs as you read any part of it.

2.   Reflect on the parallelism of a proverb by asking how the second colon (part of the statement) sharpens or intensifies the first.

3.   Identify the imagery in the proverb and then unpack it by asking how the two things being compared are similar and different. 

4.   Think about the source of wisdom in a passage.

5.   Is the passage an observation, a warning, a bit of advice, a reflection, or some other kind of teaching? 

6.   Since proverbs are not true in any and every circumstance, ask under what circumstance the proverb may or may not apply to a situation. How can you tell? 

7.   Does the proverb mentioned imply a reward or punishment that will result from obedience or disobedience? 

8.   If the passage is addressed to a young man, ask how it applies to you.  

9.   Using a commentary, study the Near Eastern background of the passage you are considering.

10.   When doing a topical study, read through the book of Proverbs and pinpoint the relevant verses. Group them together, then study each group. 

11.   Try to identify biblical stories or characters who may illustrate the truthfulness of the proverbs you are studying. 

12.   Does the New Testament address the topic or teaching of a passage you are studying?

13.   Think of Christ as the fulfillment of wisdom and how he might illustrate the wisdom of a passage you are reading.

Long list, I know, but good stuff. Our class outlines are available on our church website – under “Classes” if you are interested. What do you think – any favorite Proverbs out there?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2009 3:34 pm

    “Identify the imagery in the proverb and then UNPACK it by asking how the two things being compared are similar and different.”

    you love those trendsetting words, don’t you?

  2. andrewdphillips permalink
    September 16, 2009 4:22 pm

    I thought you would like that when I read it! We just have to “lean into” these new terms to “leverage” our maximum impact.

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